Telephone scams target the elderly<BR><BR>

Most people are annoyed by telemarketing calls.

The callers sometimes ask for money or a bank account or credit card number.

Some people send money; most simply hang up.

Most telephone scams target the elderly and with Kingman's large number of retired residents, the area is a prime target for phone scams.

About 80 percent of telemarketing is aimed at senior citizens, said Kingman police spokeswoman Tracie McKnight.

About $40 billion is lost each year nationwide to telephone scams.

That would pay for nursing home care for more than 1 million seniors for an entire year, she added.

About 14,000 telemarketing groups operate in the U.S.

Of that, about 10 percent are illegal, McKnight said.

KPD has received 30 fraudulent complaints so far this year.

Last year, the department received 43 complaints.

Criminals usually go where the money is.

That means higher educated, higher income people are targeted.

Most illegal telemarketers are out-of-state or even out-of-the-country, she added.

How do telemarketers get your phone number and other vital information in the first place?

If someone enters a sweepstakes or a contest to win a trip or prize, they are placed on lists.

Telemarketers can get your information by paying for lists from bank card companies, magazines and membership organizations, McKnight said.

Many sweepstakes are ploys to get your name, address or phone number.

To get off the list and reduce telemarketing calls and unsolicited junk mail, send a written request with your signature to: Direct Marketing Association, 1111 19th St.

NW, Suite 1100, Washington, D.C., 20030.

For more information, call the DMA at 202-955-5030.

McKnight explained that in one scam a telemarketer will give the first few numbers of your bank account or credit card number.

Then they ask for the remaining numbers to verify your identity.

Another phone scam offers magazines at low prices.

They will then ask for your bank account number.

Never give a caller your bank account number, she said.

McKnight also advised that no one should reveal their credit card number out over the phone.

If possible, people should check out the organization to which they are sending money.

Ask for the name and telephone number of the manager.

If they refuse, hang up.

People have also received calls from sales people who say they represent fire or police organizations.

McKnight said police departments - including KPD - do not solicit money.

Ask for written information disclosing how the money will be spent, she said.

Those who are contacted by telemarketers should ask the caller for the name and address of their company.

They should also ask the salesperson to send written material, including a money-back guarantee, before a purchase is made.

Also, ask about the company's refund policies, McKnight said.

If in doubt, McKnight said residents should call the Better Business Bureau of the Arizona Attorney General's Office or a local consumer protection service in the city or state where the company is located.

Also, talk to friends or relatives, a lawyer or a banker for advice before making a large purchase or investment.

Don't pay for a prize or send money to improve your chances to winning.

It is illegal for someone to ask you to pay to enter a contest, she said.

McKnight advises that residents do not allow a caller to bully or intimidate them into buying something "right now." If a caller says you have to make up your mind now, it's probably a scam, she said.

Hang up if the caller persists after you say no.

Report suspicious telemarketing calls, junk mail or advertisements to the National Fraud Information Center at 1-800-875-7060.